Covid-19 is endemic in India, but it does not mean "the end" of the deadly infectious disease, say experts emphasising the need to continue with Covid appropriate behaviour and vaccination.
In an interview to a news outlet, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation said that "India could have reached some sort of stage of endemicity" in terms of the overall Covid-19 situation.
An endemic is a disease outbreak that is consistently present but limited to a particular region. This makes the disease spread and rates predictable.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines an epidemic as an unexpected increase in the number of disease cases in a specific geographical area. On the other hand, a pandemic is when a disease's growth is exponential, meaning the growth rate is huge, and each day the number of cases keeps on growing, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Given the situation, it surely can be said that Covid is endemic in India, but it is not about the "end" of Covid, rather it means there may be sporadic rise just like H1N1, which still exists but is manageable, Dr Animesh Arya, Sr. consultant in Respiratory Medicine, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, told IANS.
He also believes that either by vaccination or herd immunity, a bigger section has developed a defense mechanism against Covid's severity.
Over the period of time, we prepare ourselves to fight against such diseases. The immune response plays a key role here, Arya said.
However, not all experts agree that India has reached an endemic state.
"The potential for the Covid-19 virus to become endemic... that is when a virus is constantly maintained at a threshold in a geographic community with occurring outbreaks. At this moment, it is a little premature to say that the virus will become endemic since the currently available data doesn't suggest that reinfection rates are high," Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha, Senior Consultant and Head of the Department, Pulmonology, Fortis Escorts Faridabad, told IANS.
According to Jha, there are crucial contributing factors, including the risk for reinfection, vaccine availability, and efficacy, as well as potential seasonality and interactions with other viral infections that may modulate the transmission of the virus.
"We have no data so far to suggest vaccine failure. Till the time we have clarity on these important factors, it is premature to say that the virus will become endemic," he noted.
So does this mean a third wave is impending?
As far as the third wave or any other waves are concerned, they are unpredictable and it will depend on the variants of the virus and their interaction with the immune and non-immune population, Arya said.
"There is a range of diverse opinions; the country's 25 to 30 per cent population is below 18 years, which is not vaccinated yet. We have to continue with Covid appropriate behavior and vaccination," he advised.
India on Thursday reported 46,164 new Covid cases, around 22 per cent jump in the last 24 hours. A total of 607 deaths were also reported in the time span, pushing the total death count in India at 4,36,365, according to the data released by the Union Health Ministry.
The Weekly Positivity Rate remains below 3 per cent for the last 62 days and currently stands at 2.02 per cent. The daily positivity rate continues to remain below 3 per cent for 31 continuous days and currently stands at 2.58 per cent.
However, India has crossed the landmark of 60 crore vaccine doses against coronavirus under mass vaccination drive across the nation so far.